Believers must maintain their faithfulness to God in order to remain pure for his purpose.
1 Thessalonians 4:3, 7 – For this is God’s will, your sanctification: … For God has not called us to impurity but to live in holiness.
As Paul is writing to the Thessalonian congregation, he is reminding them of their high calling to purity.
1 Thessalonians 4:1-2 – Additionally then, brothers, we ask and encourage you in the Master Yeshua, that as you have received instruction from us on how you should live and please God – as you are doing – do this even more. For you know what commands we gave you through the Master Yeshua.
Paul’s objective is that the Thessalonians would live and walk in a way that pleases God. Even though they had been doing so, he is encouraging them further to refrain from the impurity of the accepted culture around them and specifically the “lustful passions” of those who didn’t know God.
1 Thessalonians 4:3-7 – For this is God’s will, your sanctification: that you keep away from immorality of idolatry, that each of you knows how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not with lustful passions, like those of the nations, who don’t know God. This means one must not transgress against and take advantage of a brother in this manner, because Yahweh is an avenger of all these offenses, as we also previously told and warned you. For God has not called us to impurity but to live in holiness.
We can learn from this that some of the cultural permissiveness may have begun seeping into the congregation, as Paul warns them not to conduct these types of offenses between themselves as members of the assembly. Many Bible versions will relate this offense as some type of sexual promiscuity; however, the word can also mean whoredom, in the sense of immoral idolatrous practices, as related here. As stated many times before, God views idolatry as a type of spiritual harlotry, since when it is practiced the people are substituting the covenant bond of Yahweh for another god, and thereby committing adultery against him.
1 Thessalonians 4:8 – Consequently, anyone who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who gives you his holy Spirit.
Paul strengthens his warning by saying God is an avenger of these practices, and to participate in these worldly activities is to reject the very holy Spirit of God.
From this, we can learn that if we are sincere in following the commands of God as followers of the Master Yeshua, we likewise have an obligation to resist the permissiveness of the culture we live in, since it is God’s will (or his intention, determination, and desire) that we be holy, set apart as pure and clean for his purpose. If we take lightly this responsibility and we fall into the seductive lair of cultural acceptance, we are dishonoring the name of the One who has called us to be his own. Our distinctiveness and usefulness as salt and light is diminished because we neglected to put our light on the lampstand and instead have hid it under a bushel. We have lost our saltiness and are good for no purpose of God except to be thrown out into the street to be crushed under the foot traffic.
Succumbing to the permissiveness of our culture robs us of our power in representing God to a world who needs to know him. We must sacrifice our own desires for the desires of God, and his desire and will is that we remain holy and set apart. This is God’s ultimate will for anyone who places their faith in him through Messiah, and he empowers us through his holy Spirit to do so.
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